Interrogating Institutionalism Interrogating Institutions: Beyond "Calculus" and
Approaches· Colin Hay, Universitiy
Birmingham and M.I.T.
Daniel Wincott, University
Birmingham Abstract Peter Hall
Rosemary Taylor's recent article, "Political Science and the
provides a balanced and meticulous review of the many
ofthe "new institutionalism" and a distinctive contribution to the growing literature in this area in itsown right. Though deeply sympathetic to the analysis presented
Hall and Taylor, our aim in this
to draw attention to, and to reflect upon, some of the
theoretical and conceptual
that they leave largely unresolved.
fundamentally different (and,
argue, pro,foundly antithetical) ontolOgical assumptions
anyattempted synthesis that aims to transcend this divide undesirable and ultimately fruitless. Indeed,
suggest, the ontologies underpinning both rational choice
sociological institutionalism (a calculus
a cultural logic respectively) militate against the development
an institutionalism sensitive to in,stitutional change over time. Consequently, the further development
institutional theory necessitatesa distinctive social ontology itself grounded
a clearly articulated view
the complex relationshipbetween structure and agency. Such a social ontology
the more genericcomments of some historical institutionalists.
odds with both the "cal·culus" and "cultural" logics which Hall and Taylor claim to identify within
historical institutionalist oeuvre. Accordingly,
reject the temptation
forge a synthetic institutionalism capable
transcending the limitations
each distinctive perspective, emphasising instead the potential offered
areinvigorated historical institutionalism that can differentiate itself both analytically and ontologicallyfrom rational choice and sociological institutionalism.
alternative interpretation of thesocial ontology on which this might be premised.
• A heavUy abbreviated version